We did it. At last! Monday morning’s 10 a.m. dedication of Schustek Pond in Burr Ridge, IL came off without a hitch. Even Mother Nature co-operated somewhat: it was still a humid bad-hair day for some of us (yours truly included, no matter how much hair product I used), but the cool breeze off the pond took away from the growing heat of the day, making the morning quite pleasant. Sitting on the west bank of the pond helped in that respect and gave us all a lovely view.
It’s happening: Schustek Pond will be officially dedicated to a hero of Route 66 next Monday, July 6, 2015, on the 85th anniversary of the selfless act during which Bruno Schustek lost his life. The pond was named by the USGS’s Bureau on Geographic Names in April (that’s when we received the notification). There are so many wonderful stories that have happened along Route 66 over the years, and it’s time for this one to be told to the larger world.
Starting at 10am, we and the staff of the North American Spine Society (NASS) will remember and honor this fallen pilot on the western shore of the pond. The NASS headquarters stands next to the pond, about two miles northeast of another Route 66 point of interest, the historic Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket on Joliet Road/N. Frontage Road in nearby Willowbrook.
Hey roadies, remember several months ago when we got previously unrecognized little Canyon Creek in Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve an official name? Well (blush!), we’ve done it again. And now we’re trying to organize a dedication ceremony early next month for the newly named Schustek Pond on Route 66.
For nearly two years, we’ve been looking for a way to honor a hero of Route 66: aviator, parachute jumper and World War I pilot Bruno Frank Schustek (1899-1930). Next month is the 85th anniversary of his death. Schustek died on July 6, 1930 in what is known as the Stinson Airport tragedy, while trying to save the life of a novice parachute jumper. Her chute had been caught on the wing of her plane as it circled 1,000 feet above Stinson Airport on Route 66, in what is now McCook, IL. For two hours, several other pilots attempted rescue with rope ladders and failed, while the girl dangled in midair above and horrified people watched below. Then Schustek got into a plane with his fellow pilot Charles ‘Bud’ Geiger to make yet another attempt. As Geiger maneuvered his craft above the other plane, Schustek climbed down a knotted rope to try to free the girl. The novice made it safely to the ground, but the weary Schustek – an experienced parachute instructor who, ironically, was wearing neither a safety harness (they didn’t exist yet) nor a chute at the time – lost his grip on the rope before he could climb back up and fell 600 feet to his death. (Listen to our podcast about the tragedy here.)
A new historical mural for Flagg Creek Heritage Society is being painted on the sides of the society’s home and museum, which ought to improve the cinder-block building’s appearance no end. Chicago artist John Howard is hard at work on the mural even as you read this, executing the work on three sides of the building (for now, the back end and part of the north side will simply remain blank, painted with a pale yellow base coat). Howard began the work on July 1 and says he expects the work to be done by Labor Day, if not the end of August. FCHS has tentatively scheduled a dedication ceremony for Sunday afternoon, October 5th between 2 pm and 4 pm. More details on that later as they become available.
The historical society’s home is in Walker Park at 7425 S. Wolf Road, part of the Pleasant Dale Park District in Burr Ridge, just south of Joliet Road/Historic Route 66. Actually, the museum building is tucked in between the basketball courts and a children’s playground at the northern end of the field house’s north parking lot. Previously, if you didn’t know exactly where to find the museum – which, to be fair, looked like a storage hut or a cement garage – you might have easily missed it, given that the field house (better known as the rec center) has two parking lots, one on either side, and Walker Park is huge for a suburban park (check out the area on Google Maps satellite view here).